The House of Representatives is to investigate if the concession of assets of the Nigeria Railways Corporation to General Electric violates the county’s privatisation laws.
In a motion considered during Tuesday’s plenary, the lawmakers queried what they described as an attempt by the Federal Executive Council to concession the Western (Lagos-Kano) and Eastern (Port Harcourt-Maiduguri) rail lines, to General Electric, without recourse to the Bureau of Public Enterprises, and privatisation regulations.
The move to investigate the concession agreement with GE comes after a motion raised by Honourable Chukwuemeka Ujam.
The lawmakers said the action of the FEC is a part of attempts to pander to certain interests who want to see the nation’s core assets sold off and alleged that the move contravenes the Public Enterprises (Privatization and Commercialization) Act, 1999.
The chairman of the House committee on Privatization, Yerima Ahmed, said by engaging the American firm, FEC had usurped the functions of the Bureau of Public Enterprises and the National Council on Privatisation.
“Section 11 (j) outlines the procedures for privatisation; there are four sections to be followed by the BPE and the agency is not being carried along.
“The NCP has not been inaugurated, and in its absence, the BPE is the secretariat for any privatisation.” He said
The chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Relations, Nnenna Ukeje, said it is incomprehensible how such concession or privatization agreement would be deemed legal when the National Economic Stimulus Bill is yet to be signed into law.
The house committee on privatisation was directed to investigate the matter and report back to the house in four weeks.
After the last Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja, the Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi announced that the council has approved a negotiation with GE, towards contracting the railways across Nigeria.
He said the narrow gauge railways to be contracted would to a great extent, assist the agriculture and mining ministries in the transportation of extracted minerals.
One of them is the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway which would include: Port Harcourt, Aba, Umuahia, Enugu, Makurdi, Jos, Gombe and Bauchi to Borno.
The other is the Lagos-Kano railway, which would also comprise: Lagos, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Ilorin, Kano, Funtua and Zaria to Kaura Namoda.
The Transportation Minister says the railways to be rehabilitated by GE will come at no cost to the government.